This article was written by Tom Murray and Susan Breedlove
Jonathan Lee doesn’t feel comfortable sitting at many tables of Twin Cities business and artistic leaders. Often no one currently at the table looks or appears to have anything in common with him. He says, “I’ve been sexually abused as a child, after a raid of my family’s home which briefly tossed me into the foster system. I’ve been shot at more times that I can count on both hands and wounded once. I am currently engaged and fathering a young family while continuing to work in the community where I have had a lifelong intimate relationship. My struggles and my accomplishments are good enough reasons for me to make my own damn table. All are invited to join me and hear my story, but especially those, who like me, have their own story to tell that society doesn’t want to hear.”
Lee’s debut compilation of Northside streets influenced his poetry and free writing. P.O.M.E.: Minneapolis Misfit What the Achievement Gap Created details the thoughts and lived experiences growing up as a young African American millennial male in North Minneapolis, a place often overlooked and unknown to the rest of Minneapolis, Minnesota and the United States. P.O.M.E. is an abbreviation for ‘Product of My Environment.’ A pome is also defined as a group of fruits with a core of several seeds surrounded by a tough membrane which is how Lee sees North Minneapolis at times. “Statistically black boys and girls are and have been generationally on a path to nowhere. There is a race problem here that has and continues to suffocate Minnesota’s African American population, making us one of the worst states for African Americans due to achievement gaps in housing, law enforcement, education, health, and safety. I don’t sleep well at night. I won’t sleep well at night until every breathing person within my reach experiences my same terrifying loss of breath.”
Jonathan Lee is also the author of the forthcoming novel, Sitting in This Funeral. That story also set in North Minneapolis, provides readers with a direct window to the complexities of the Northside with its dizzying highs and devastating all too often deadly lows.
Save the date!
P.O.M.E.: Minneapolis Misfit What the Achievement Gap Created
Published by Intellectual Street Affiliates
Thursday, February 21 6:30-8 p.m. at Henry High School Media Center
4320 Newton Avenue North
#Henryalumwriters. Available from Amazon.com.
Jonathan Lee is a Family Facilitator with Northpoint Health and Wellness Center who aspires to be a change agent by way of writing, entrepreneurial endeavors, and continuous activism within the Twin Cities.
Tommy Murray (Fathers, Sons, and the Holy Ghosts of Baseball) says, “Firsthand accounts of life on the Northside are rare. Jonathan Lee’s P.O.M.E. takes you on an exhilarating ride east to west on Plymouth and Broadway and north to south on Lyndale and Penn and everywhere in between.”
Victor Armando Martinez says,“I live on the Northside. This collection of poetry and short verse is a candid look into the experience of life on the Northside for so many African Americans and other minority groups. Jon is at times metaphorical and philosophical in his writing but yet still very much connected to his foundation and true to his mission!”